“How do I know if I’m doing a good job?”
As the caregiver of someone with dementia, it can be tough to know if you’re doing an excellent job or if you’re out of your depth. It is critical to use the correct “performance indicators” when trying to gauge the quality of the care you’re providing.
Firstly — Yes, You Are
Indeed, we’ve never met. We have not sat in on a day with you and your loved one. However, simply because you care enough to research how to be a better caregiver automatically means your heart is in the right place. So, before we jump into assessing performance, know that you’re off to a great start.
Why Patient Happiness is Not a Great Performance Indicator
It’s easy to feel like a lousy dementia patient caregiver following an uncomfortable situation. However, simply asking, “are they happy right now?” is a very poor indicator of the quality of care you’re providing. Why? Well, let’s look at the unique circumstances impacting a dementia patient:
- As their condition declines, they’re likely losing abilities.
- As they lose abilities, this usually means losing “privileges” — such as operating a car, leaving the house alone, cooking, or handling their finances.
- All of these lost abilities and privileges are bound to make them confused and upset.
While you could give in and give them immediate happiness by granting their request to take their car for a spin or take control of their credit card information, this is not an indication of quality care. The same could be said about a parent who simply gives into their children’s demands when the results are unfavorable or even dangerous.
Patient happiness is also not a good gauge of the quality of your care because it leaves out a crucial element — your wellbeing. It is not uncommon for a caregiver to put the happiness of their loved one above their own health and happiness. Not only can this complete selflessness result in a lower quality of care in the long run as you’re completely worn out, but it may even result in you sacrificing your own health. You must tend to your own emotional and physical needs to continue delivering quality care.
But what are good performance indicators for dementia caregivers?
You probably wish there was a simple checklist to fulfill to determine if you’re doing a good job. So, what is a good performance indicator for dementia caregivers? Simply put, how well you manage the difficult decisions.
There will be a lot of no-win situations.
You want to make your loved one with dementia as happy and comfortable as possible. However, you’ll be frequently required to say “no,” — which may upset the patient. Most of these occasions will not only be for their own good but also your own long-term preservation as a caregiver. These scenarios may have no outcome that keeps the patient simultaneously happy and safe.
Understand that saying “no” is not a failure on your part, and a safe yet upset loved one does not make you a bad caregiver. It makes you a compassionate person who — yes — is doing a great job.
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